Liliya Shobukhova aiming for first-ever three-peat at 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon today announced that two-time defending champion Liliya Shobukhova will return to compete for her third straight victory, a feat that has never before been accomplished at Chicago’s fall classic. The Russian Olympian and national record-holder has dominated the flat and fast streets of Chicago for the past two years, crushing the competition with a devastating kick in 2009, and using patient, measured tactics to outlast her competition in 2010. A victory at the 34th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9 would put Shobukhova in a class by herself as owner of three consecutive titles.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has witnessed 12 back-to-back champions—seven women (including Shobukhova) and five men—yet the closest three-peat performer was Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba who placed second in 2002 after winning the 2000 and 2001 races. On the men’s side, Kenya’s Evans Rutto nearly accomplished the feat after victories in 2003 and 2004, but he dropped to fourth in 2005. Khalid Khannouchi, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon’s all-time leader with four victories (in the span of six years), was never able to string together more than two in a row, which he achieved in 1999-2000.

With its storied history of highly competitive elite fields, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon stands as the only member of the World Marathon Majors in which an athlete has never been able to beat all comers for three consecutive years.

“I would like to thank the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the opportunity to return to this world-class event for the third year in a row,” said Shobukhova. “This year, there is additional pressure as I am the two-time defending champion and despite all the prior repeat champions, no one has yet been able to earn three straight victories in Chicago. Each year that I return to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon I feel more popular there, the crowds recognize me, and I am more familiar with the course. This will help me run faster and possibly set another record, which is especially important in my preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games next summer.”

Coming off a runner-up finish at the 2011 Virgin London Marathon where she improved her Russian record to 2:20:15, a victory in Chicago would undoubtedly cement Shobukhova’s status as a gold medal favorite for the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be her final marathon competition prior to the Olympics, and an invaluable opportunity to compete against a deep field of international competitors.

“Liliya has the opportunity to do what no other athlete has done in the history of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon—and there have been some great ones,” said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “Each year we bring together the world’s best runners to compete head-to-head on the streets of Chicago, so the three-peat is no easy task. Liliya is one of the savviest competitors I have ever seen with her incredible speed, strength, tactics and discipline out on the race course. I’m certain she has a special performance in store for us on October 9, and that she’s looking to send a message that she’s the one to beat at the Olympic Games next summer.”

Shobukhova is also the defending World Marathon Majors series champion and a third straight victory at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon would seal her standing atop the 2010-2011 series leader board and the $500,000 share of the $1 million WMM prize purse.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Back-to-Back Champions

Rosa Mota (POR)                                  1983-1984, 3rd in 1985
Lisa Weidenbach (USA)             1988-1989, did not run in 1990
Marian Sutton (GBR)                              1996-1997, 10th in 1998
Joyce Chepchumba (KEN)                     1998-1999, did not run in 2000
Catherine Ndereba (KEN)                       2000-2001, 2nd in 2002
Berhane Adere (ETH)                             2006-2007, 10th in 2008
Liliya Shobukhova (RUS)                       2009-2010

Steve Jones (GBR)                                1984-1985, did not run in 1986
Luiz Antonio Dos Santos (BRA)             1993-1994, did not run in 1995
Khalid Khannouchi (MAR/USA)   1999-2000, did not run in 2001
Evans Rutto (KEN)                                2003-2004, 4th in 2005
Sammy Wanjiru (KEN)               2009-2010

World Marathon Majors Three-Peat Champions
Boston Marathon
Clarence DeMar (USA)               1922-1924
Bill Rodgers (USA)                                1978-1980
Cosmas Ndeti (KEN)                             1993-1995
Uta Pippig (GER)                                  1994-1996
Fatuma Roba (ETH)                               1997-1999
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN)           2006-2008

Virgin London Marathon
Katrin Dorre (GER)                                1992-1994
Dionicio Ceron (MEX)                            1994-1996

BMW Berlin Marathon
Haile Gebrselassie (ETH)                       2006-2009 (four in a row)

ING New York City Marathon
Bill Rodgers (USA)                                1976-1979 (four in a row)
Grete Waitz (NOR)                                 1978-1980, 1982-1986 (five in a row)
Alberto Salazar (USA)                1980-1982

Race Weekend Press Information Updates
Media planning to attend the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon should note that individual elite athlete press opportunities will begin Thursday afternoon, October 6, prior to the traditional Elite Athlete Press Conference on Friday morning. Additionally, the Thursday morning press conference will include interview opportunities with U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team members Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, who are serving as co-captains of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon’s “Let’s Run Together” Charity Relay.

Media may apply for credentials to cover the Bank of America Chicago Marathon online at beginning Friday, August 19.

Also, to make sure you are receiving the information you want and need from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, please update your contact information by clicking here.

About the Bank of America Chicago Marathon
In its 34th year and a member of the World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon annually attracts 45,000 participants, including a world-class elite runner and wheelchair field, and an estimated 1.7 million spectators. As a result of its national and international draw, each year, the iconic race assists in raising millions for a variety of charitable causes while generating $150 million in economic impact to its host city according to a report by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (R.E.A.L.). The 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will start and finish in Chicago’s Grant Park beginning at 7:30 a.m. on October 9. In advance of the race, a two-day Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place Convention Center on October 7-8.